That One Time I was on Reality TV
I was invited to be on Keyshia Cole's "The Way It Is" Season 3
A few years back I was doing work as a dog trainer at a Atlanta based dog training facility. I will not disclose the name of the place, sorry. One evening I got a call from my then boss asking me who Keyshia Cole was. So I told her she's an R&B artist and has a reality show. My boss then told me they asked her to come on the show and help train her dogs. They planned to devote some air time to Keyshia's pooches. The producer was being very vague about the dogs' personalities. The guy described the dogs to my boss as three little dogs, a 'teacup' Yorkie, 'mini' Schnauzer, and a Maltese all with some aggressive temperament issues. My boss tried to get more information on the dogs but he would not give up any details. My boss asked me to come along as her assistant because I knew who Keyshia was and in the event she would need help with them. I agreed to go. My boss has done many shows and knew with camera crews plus a lot of strangers in the home it would not be the same as a training facility's environment.
I should've known...
We arrived at Keyshia's house at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon as planned. I remember we pulled up to the huge house and seeing no cars in the driveway wondering to myself if we were in the right place. My boss pulled up in front of the house at the curb not wanting to block the driveway and called the the rep that we would be working with to make sure we were. Sure enough we were and the camera crew was still a few minutes away, so my boss parked and turned the engine off.
I could not believe what I heard when she turned off the car. It was the most awful sch-reeking high pitched barking I have ever heard. My boss and I just looked at each other with the "Oh My God" look on our faces. I will never forget how terrible they sounded. We now knew why the producer wouldn't give us details on the dogs' behaviors and knew we were in for some madness. We hadn't even seen the dogs but by their sounds knew that they were going to be a handful.
A few minutes later three different cars pulled up, a luxury SUV, a luxury car, and a dark colored van. The car and SUV pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door. The van pulled up behind us. When the garage door was opened all the way Keyshia's sister, Neffe came out and was still in her pajamas. An unknown man got out of the SUV and another man out of the car. I still don't know who they were, maybe security? Then out of the SUV stepped Keyshia's adopted mother, Yvonne Cole. She was wearing a gold skirt with jacket to match. I chuckled to myself about her outfit and wondered why she may have been wearing that at the time that it was. I couldn't hear anything but I saw her mother and sister chat as they walked into the house through the garage. They all looked at us but never said anything. Neffe even waved to us but that was the only interaction.The gentlemen then followed behind them and the garage closed.
There was still no sight of the camera crew and no one had gotten out of the van yet. No one said anything to us we were like, "What is going on?" It had been like 45 minutes and still nothing. So we waited.. and waited. The garage opened again and the guy that was driving the SUV came out of the house with the Yorkie in his arms. They got in the SUV and drove off. Again, we were like, "What the hell is going on?"
Reality shows aren't so real after all, who knew?
After another 20 minutes a different SUV pulled up and a gentlemen quickly exited the vehicle and approached the driver's side of the car we were in. The man had long dread locks, was very skinny, and was wearing dark sunglasses. He and my boss introduced themselves. And then she introduced me. I for the life of me cannot remember his name, I'm so terrible with things like that. He got right into what the itinerary was for the day. First, we would do the shot of us pulling up to the house and parking in the driveway since we were still in the car. This would be the shot that was considered my boss' pay for doing the show, her plug of her company name on the car. Next, he said we would get wired up with mics and we would have to sign release forms. This is where I got very nervous and began to remind my boss I was there as a "behind the scene" assistant. I did not want to be wearing a mic and did not want to be on film.
Before I knew it we were down the street recording our 'drive up' scene and shameless plug. I remember repeatedly telling my boss without trying to move my lips much how I did not want to be on television. It was in one ear out the other. In her mind it was whatever they wanted and I was going to have to do anything that was asked for the sake of her business. She told me she would do all the talking and not to worry. Yeah, right. I'm about a shy as they come. I flub my words when I'm nervous or on the spot. Now, I was to meet celebrities, be filmed, and be watched by a huge camera crew and not worry. Again, I say, Yeah, right!!
Once we were finished with that scene the camera's stopped and they had us sign the release forms for being on the show. Terrible me, I signed away without even reading it. I didn't see how this could come to haunt me as I wasn't a big feature or anything. After that, one of the crew members began fitting my boss with her mic. And then I saw him getting another one ready and I expressed again how I didn't want to be on the show. It was like no one heard me the guy just kept moving and told me, "lift the back of your shirt" as I did he stuck the mic pack on my bra strap, handed me the wire with the mic and then said, "stick this part on the inside of the front of your shirt." I was not a happy camper being forced into the situation but at this point what was I to do other than make the best of it.
I forgot to mention...
This entire time the loud barking never stopped. We knew it wasn't the Yorkie because it was gone. I couldn't believe which ever dog it was, either the Schnauzer or the Maltese, hadn't gotten tired and gave up by this time. This was a red flag to us dog trainers that the dog was going to give us a hell of a time.
Scene Two: The walk up..
The next scene we were to shoot was of us walking up to the door, ringing the doorbell, and Keyshia's mother, Yvonne would answer to greet us. [No, we did not meet her mother before we did this scene. This scene was where we actually met her and introduced ourselves.] This is also when we saw who was doing all the ferocious barking.
The scene began with us getting out of the car. They gave us a walkie talkie to tell us when to get out of the car. Funny, right? Makes you wonder about all those car shots on reality shows. We got out the car when they told us and walked up the sidewalk to the door. We had to shoot this three times. Who knows why, the takes seemed exactly the same each time. Then we shot ringing the doorbell a few times. Who knew it takes that many times to get the perfect doorbell scene? Maybe they weren't ready on the other side? I'll never know the reason.
Scene Three: Meeting Keyshia's Mother & the LittleTerror
Finally, we shot the scene where we met Keyshia's mother, Yvonne Cole. She opened the door, now in a black dress, with a barking and lunging Maltese on a leash. The dog was so loud with all of it's barking we hurried with our introduction and only shot it once. I don't think she heard our names and we surely didn't hear her's. I'm glad I did my research and already knew her mom's name. There was no info anywhere online about the dogs other than pictures with Keyshia.
Keyshia's Maltese is named, Lyric and boy is she a terror! This dog was one of the most high strung dogs I have ever met. Following the introduction we were guided to the living room of the house with camera's rolling. The entire time Lyric was barking her head off and lunging at us. We could barely hear our own thoughts with all the crazy barking going on. All I could think was, "What have I gotten myself into?"
"Your Dog has Major Issues"
We were now in the living room sitting on the couch attempting to talk about Lyric. Lyric was non-stop barking so my boss starting throwing little pieces of hotdog at her to try to get her to calm down and see us as friends with good treats. Oh, she took the hotdogs alright and barked between each one. This was one persistent little pooch. My boss began to go over some things with Yvonne as she observed Lyric. As she did and so that she could focus she gave me the hotdogs to distract the dog from barking. During this scene they stopped filming and my boss was instructed to "be more real and honest" about the situation with Lyric. When the camera's started rolling again my boss told Yvonne, "Your dog has major issues and she will need extensive aggression management training to reverse all of her bad behaviors."
That was the end of Lyrics segment. I would like to add that this dog never stopped barking, lunged at me several times with teeth showing, and tried to bite me and my boss.
I can imagine this is why they decided to shoot the dog scenes separately. Lyric was completely off her rocker and would more than likely redirect her frustrations onto one of the other dogs in the home.
Next up: Lola
Next, we were to meet Keyshia's other pooch, Lola. She is a "mini" salt and pepper schnauzer. I wish I could say good things about this dog but her personality was just like Lyric's. They had to keep her on leash as well and a good distance away from us. She was lunging and barking a lot too. The hotdog's seemed to help a little. By that I mean she would quiet down a little, maybe about 30 seconds before she would start up again between hotdogs.
My boss concluded that Lola would need the same training as Lyric but saw more "hope" in Lola. My boss thought Lyric could be turned around too but with the lifestyle she lived she did not think that Keyshia or her family would have the time to give that would be needed for Lyric to get over all of her aggressive behavior.
Lastly, The Return of the Yorkie
Apparently, some time during the scenes with the other dogs the gentleman returned with Keyshia's Yorkie, Gizmo. We never saw him return to the house but as Lola was escorted out of the living room, Gizmo was entering in on leash.
Gizmo, was barking as well. Not so much lunging going on with this dog. Gizmo was actually hiding behind Yvonne's legs a little bit and would peek around her and bark at us. Gizmo was actually able to stay quiet while my boss talked to Yvonne and addressed her concerns for the Yorkie. Of course, I was tossing hotdogs to help keep him quiet.
My boss saw great potential in Gizmo. She thought with some basic training and some socialization he would be just fine.
Time To Go
Our last scene we would shoot was us saying good bye and leaving the home. Why they decided to use Lyric in this shot is beyond me. Of all the dogs, in my opinion, they pick the worst one to work with.
As we were leaving it was just as it was when we arrived, but we were exiting the home instead. We couldn't hear each other again and here was this dog now lunging at the back of my heels trying to get a piece of me. We opened the door, walked out, and said good bye. Yvonne decided to walk us to the car with Lyric. Great. Yvonne was walking a little to close because Lyric nipped the back of my heel and the camera guy was at Lyric's level capturing all of this. I jumped and sped up trying to hold it together and not yelp myself. They didn't retake that scene, it was probably exactly what they wanted. We then got into the car and did the drive away scene. No skin was broken during the filming of this seen, thank God!
The wrap up scene was shot rather quickly to me. It was all done in one take. Amazing to me since it took so many when we first arrived. They were more than likely on a schedule and had to hurry it up.
When we were done filming
We returned back to the house and returned the mic's to the camera guys. We were told to go back into the house where my boss really went over some training information with Yvonne. Since we had to hurry the filming with the dogs she didn't get to go over everything while the camera's were on. This was the opportunity for my boss to go over some important things about Keyshia's dogs and discuss their futures.
After their chit chat we left the house and went home. The entire ride back home we talked about how insane those dogs were and how in her 10 year+ career she had never seen anything like them. We hoped that they would seek out some training for these pooches even if it wasn't with her company. These dogs needed some serious help. I still wonder if they ever did or if they remain the sames dogs today.
To answer the question that everyone is probably wondering..
No, I never saw Keyshia Cole. I only saw her sister, Neffe briefly in the driveway and her adopted mom, Yvonne Cole.
Keyshia was home but was asleep up in her room. The original plan was to shoot these dog scenes with Keisha, not her mother. But the camera crew could not get Keisha to wake up and come downstairs. I heard one of them say, "She's a prima donna." That was funny to me.
So, yeah, that part really stunk to me. I thought we were going to meet her and was excited about that. Also, it was one of the reasons I agreed to do this. But I got over that pretty quickly and was just happy to get a chance to do something like this.
Cutting room floor
When it came time to edit the season and put it together we were left on the cutting room floor. In season 3 of The Way It Is they decided to take the show in a different direction and focus on the relationships of Keyshia's two mothers. Her birth mother, Frankie and adopted mom, Yvonne would be featured more this season and we were edited right on out.
It really stinks we never made it to air but I really do appreciate the opportunity to do something like this. In the end it was all fun and a great experience.
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